It is inspiring to see how some people handle adversity. A couple of weeks ago, there was a senseless act of violence that occurred in a church in South Carolina. Nine people who had come to worship God were murdered by a very disturbed young man. He calculatingly killed people who he considered beneath him. What a horrible act of racism and bigotry! As horrible and horrific as that day was, the days that followed were miraculously filled with faith and forgiveness. I was brought to tears as I heard the family members express their forgiveness to the very person who had killed their loved ones. What an incredible lesson they taught all of us! Their love of God allowed them to forgive. The young man was emotionless to the feelings and words of these forgiving followers of Christ. Of course he was emotionless! He was full of hate! That is precisely what drove him to do what he did. While it may be true that their offering of forgiveness did nothing for him, it definitely did do something for them! What these God-fearing people understand is that forgiveness frees from hate. Hatred had destroyed this young man, but it would not destroy them!
The picture quote comes from a talk given by President James E. Faust in the April 2007 LDS General Conference. His talk has several inspirational stories of forgiveness and is definitely worth reading. Here is the link to that talk. The common thread in each of the stories (and also in the recent event in South Carolina) is they are all religious people, whose love of God taught them to forgive. There is such an important place in our society for religious freedom! It is one of the freedoms I cherish most! In the April 2015 LDS General Conference, Elder Robert D. Hales gave four cornerstones of religious freedom that we must rely upon and protect. They are:
– Freedom to believe
– Freedom to share our faith and our beliefs with others
– Freedom to form a religious organization, a church, to worship peacefully with others
– Freedom to live our faith—free exercise of faith not just in the home and chapel but also in public places
Here is the link to his entire talk.
July 4th is Saturday, a day we celebrate our nation’s freedom. We have seen far too much hatred in our society lately. While it is true we have different beliefs, backgrounds, hertiages and religions, we must be respectful of those differences if America is going to remain a truly free country. We must never forget this nation was founded “under God.” The tragedy in South Carolina reminds us that some people use their freedom for good and others use it for evil. Hopefully we all learned a lesson or two from those who used their freedom for good! As we will undoubtedly have many opportunities this weekend to see our beautiful flag, remember what it stands for! Let us have the courage to defend the freedoms that we hold so dear!